Merdeka: Are We Really Independent?

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The word MERDEKA (Malay for independence) brings a flood of memories to a time when I would stay up late with some friends at the mamak and then count down as the clock strikes 12am. 

In some way, it was a little bit like New Years, with a lot of merry making and light-hearted fun. As I grew older — and when we got our car license — there would be late night escapades into the heart of KL… Only to get stuck in heavy traffic and eventually counting down in the car!

Ask an older family member or friend what they remember about 31st August 1957, and they will tell you about the nostalgic memories of that era. The rallying cry of Tunku that signalled the new era of Malaysia stepping out from the shadows of the British rule and into her own season.

Much can be said about one’s personal views during this era depending on which political divide you stand. However, I won’t go there.

Merdeka has always been a rallying cry for independence from British rule, and it was a time when Tunku presented a united Malaysian front. I didn’t live in that era and I don’t know enough about it to make comments about it. However, from what I hear from my grandparents and parents, it was a much simpler time back then.

group of people wearing face mask

Photo: Bloomberg

In present day Malaysia, you’ll often see caricatures of a Malay, Chinese, and Indian boy/girl carrying a Malaysian flag to signal that brand of unity in the days leading up to 31st August. However, in my opinion, as much as Merdeka generally means independence, I’d like to think that in this pandemic season, 2021, is very much about INTER-dependence.

We’ve gone past obtaining a unity of races for the sake of independence — we are now inter-dependent on each other as individuals, regardless of race, in battling a very persistent and ever evolving virus. What this pandemic has shown is that we need to cross political and religious divides in order to support one another. 

As someone working in healthcare (running my own chiro and physio practice) in Malaysia, there is unfortunately also a reflection of the lack of inter-dependence between both groups of professionals. There’s often a strong sentiment that one is better than the other, and one can do what the other can’t. If we can band together as humans to collectively fight against a global pandemic, why not as professionals as well in treating those very same humans?

Navigating through the pandemic in Malaysia, I’ve come to realize over time that there’s a larger need for us as professionals in this industry to work with one another in order to help each other. A healthy, secure understanding of each others’ strengths and weaknesses with a respect for one another. 

group of multiracial people

Photo: Google

So as 31st August rolls around, may I suggest that you’d consider Merdeka to be a time for us to reflect on how we can be even more inter-dependent among one another; to unite as one to see how we each play a crucial role to help each other through our journey of life. Let’s lead the way even as we expect the same of our country’s leaders.

If you’d like to experience how our practice works together to address a health concern, you can check out the details here.